If superyacht marketing is to be believed, then every superyacht manufacturer on the planet is producing the maritime equivalent of a Rolls-Royce motor car, save for an exceptional few who, mistakenly or not, would place themselves in the Bugatti bracket. It simply cannot be the case, relatively speaking, that every yacht and yard is of equal quality, individuality, performance and reliability. Where are the Audis and BMWs, the bastions of dependability and value?
Not everyone wants a Rolls Royce and even some of those that do are acutely aware that they can’t afford one. Is the uniformity of yachting rhetoric a reflection of how yards genuinely perceive themselves, a lack of imagination or an attempt to hoodwink those that may become their eventual consumer? Shipyards are well aware of where they sit in the marketplace, so are the brokers, surveyors and any number of other factions that advise owners and potential owners.
‘Dreams’, ‘perfection’, ‘quality’, ‘luxury’, ‘heritage’, ‘design’, etc, etc, so on and so forth. Stick these words on a dartboard, blindfold yourself (get a friend or colleague to help) and start throwing darts. If you have managed against the odds to hit the board, it is more than likely you will have quite inadvertently created a reasonable, and very much acceptable by way of market standards, shipyard mantra.
In 2010, Audi won a legal battle to take control of the trademark “Vorsprung durch Technik”. When translated into English the slogan reads, “advancement through technology”. So important was this notion to Audi’s DNA that the powers at be fought for control of its use for nearly 30 years. Could many shipyards claim that their message was worth a 30-year legal battle?
In today’s superyacht climate, there is no single message to suit all prospective buyers. Some individuals are looking for value for money, others for individuality, eco-friendliness, performance, brand and so on. And yet, all shipyards, bar a select few, use near enough the same message – with varying degrees of success – to attract their customers. Perhaps it is time for yards to start conveying what genuinely makes them unique, rather than focussing on that which makes them one of many.